This week we have witnessed the horrifying attack at the Manchester Arena where 22 people tragically died, 116 people were injured, and 75 people are still in hospital, after Monday’s bomb attack. As I looked through the list of people who had lost their lives I could not help feel a sense of anger at the devastating loss of life. Terrorism is about spreading terror, it embodies cruelty and manufactures anxiety. This violent act of terrorism had indiscriminately set out to harm and kill in any way it could, taking the lives, hopes and dreams of its victims and their families and leaving others to try and piece back together that which they have lost. Our hearts and prayers go out to all who have been affected by this evil act of violence.
It is at these shocking times that the reality of life comes into sharp focus. Yes, there are questions… dull, aching questions of how could anyone do this? However there is also the question of how am I going to respond to this evil? Many of us, in the back of our minds may wonder whether it is safe to go to that concert or get on an underground train or go into that crowded public place. Fear can grip us because we suddenly become afraid that we will lose the thing we love. However there is also a useful, positive side to fear because as we confront our fears we come to understand again the things that are really important to us. As thousands gathered for a vigil on Manchester’s streets, what was put on display was a determination that fear was not going to have the last word but instead the precious elements of community, kindness and solidarity were emphasised and magnified.
In the face of fear there is the opportunity to understand again what is precious and right in life.
In 1 John 4:17&18 it says, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them… there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
These words could appear like just words until we see them in the reality of the life of Jesus. In the face of fear it was God’s love through Jesus that triumphed. Jesus endured the terrible suffering and shame of the cross so that we might have life. Here is our God standing in the suffering of humanity and in his resurrection proclaiming that love wins.
Jesus’ example shows us that we don’t have to be passive victims of fear. We too can let love win in the simple things of life. In the direct aftermath of the bombing I was heartened to hear how Manchester taxi drivers had ferried people to where they needed to go and refused to charge a fare; how local residents opened up their homes to anyone who was stranded, and hotels offered a place to stay free of charge.
Councilor Bev Craig tweeted:
Mancunians opening their homes to those stranded, and businesses offering free rides. This is the Manchester I love.
As we look to stand alongside those who have suffered, to offer prayer and support in any way we can, let us make a stand for love. The same Christ who died on the cross for us, now lives in us by His Spirit. Let us allow His voice to determine our everyday actions and let us continue in our determination as we cry out “Your Kingdom Come, your will be done”. For His kingdom will be one where love not fear ultimately wins.
With every blessing in Christ,
Daniel Currie (Vicar)